Ochsner Employees Comfort Breast Cancer Survivors … Through Knitting
Louisiana’s first chapter of Knitted Knockers offers a free option to breast prosthetics
NEW ORLEANS – For women battling breast cancer, a mastectomy can have a heavy physical and emotional toll. This is compounded by the fact that many report feeling “not themselves” or “incomplete” after surgery. A group of Ochsner employees is stepping up to offer these women a free and immediate solution through an international program called Knitted Knockers.
A local group of Ochsner nurses, radiology techs and medical assistants have started the first Louisiana chapter of Knitted Knockers to provide soft, adjustable inserts that women can begin wearing immediately in any bra they choose. The inserts are free to any patient who has undergone a mastectomy and are knitted or crocheted by the Ochsner employees and volunteers in their spare time.
After a mastectomy, patients often must wait weeks or months before they can undergo reconstructive breast surgery — if that option is even available or attractive to the patient. Manufactured prosthetics are available, but they are expensive, can only be used in custom bras and many patients find them uncomfortable.
“As mammography technologists, it’s our job to care for our patients, not just physically, but also emotionally,” said Deanna Nettles, a Breast Imaging Supervisor for Ochsner Health System. “This is just one more opportunity to use our talents to make patients feel better.”
One of those patients is Kristen who was diagnosed at age 27 with stage 2 breast cancer and underwent a unilateral mastectomy. When asked about the impact of Knitted Knockers in her life, she said, "The diagnosis takes a lot away from you. To have something to boost your confidence and replace what you've lost — and these ladies taking the time to do it — makes it that much more special."
Although the program just started a month ago, the Ochsner chapter of Knitted Knockers has already helped 20 breast cancer survivors in the New Orleans area. The group has also grown beyond the original staff to include volunteers, some from the Ochsner Golden Opportunity senior program. They meet regularly to grow their supply in hopes to help more patients.
“I’m really proud of all our staff and volunteers who have brought this innovative program to Ochsner,” said Nettles. “It just goes to show that serving others can be more than just a career, it’s a calling.”
Knitters or crocheters interested in participating can contact Deanna Nettles (504) 842-3473 or Judy Pennison (504) 842-6518. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 25 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 50 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across six specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 90 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs 17,000 employees, over 1,000 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts more than 900 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Knitted Knockers was founded in 2011 by Barbara Demorest. Demorest was devastated to find out that she would have to wait six weeks after her mastectomy before undergoing reconstructive surgery. Her doctor suggested a knitted insert that many of his patients had found helpful. She enlisted a friend to help her out and was overwhelmed by the result. Demorest wanted to find a way to get more of these life changing inserts in the hands of women like herself and Knitted Knockers was born. Find out more at www.knittedknockers.org.